NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) 20060023359: The Art of Space Flight Exercise Hardware: Design and Implementation
Publication date 2004-01-01
Topics NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS), AEROSPACE MEDICINE, ASTRONAUTS, COUNTERMEASURES, ENVIRONMENT EFFECTS, HEALTH, MICROGRAVITY, PHYSICAL EXERCISE, BIODYNAMICS, BONE MINERAL CONTENT, CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM, MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM, SPACECREWS, WEIGHTLESSNESS, TREADMILLS, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, Beyene, Nahom M.,
The design of space flight exercise hardware depends on experience with crew health maintenance in a microgravity environment, history in development of flight-quality exercise hardware, and a foundation for certifying proper project management and design methodology. Developed over the past 40 years, the expertise in designing exercise countermeasures hardware at the Johnson Space Center stems from these three aspects of design. The medical community has steadily pursued an understanding of physiological changes in humans in a weightless environment and methods of counteracting negative effects on the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system. The effects of weightlessness extend to the pulmonary and neurovestibular system as well with conditions ranging from motion sickness to loss of bone density. Results have shown losses in water weight and muscle mass in antigravity muscle groups. With the support of university-based research groups and partner space agencies, NASA has identified exercise to be the primary countermeasure for long-duration space flight. The history of exercise hardware began during the Apollo Era and leads directly to the present hardware on the International Space Station. Under the classifications of aerobic and resistive exercise, there is a clear line of development from the early devices to the countermeasures hardware used today. In support of all engineering projects, the engineering directorate has created a structured framework for project management. Engineers have identified standards and "best practices" to promote efficient and elegant design of space exercise hardware. The quality of space exercise hardware depends on how well hardware requirements are justified by exercise performance guidelines and crew health indicators. When considering the microgravity environment of the device, designers must consider performance of hardware separately from the combined human-in-hardware system. Astronauts are the caretakers of the hardware while it is deployed and conduct all sanitization, calibration, and maintenance for the devices. Thus, hardware designs must account for these issues with a goal of minimizing crew time on orbit required to complete these tasks. In the future, humans will venture to Mars and exercise countermeasures will play a critical role in allowing us to continue in our spirit of exploration. NASA will benefit from further experimentation on Earth, through the International Space Station, and with advanced biomechanical models to quantify how each device counteracts specific symptoms of weightlessness. With the continued support of international space agencies and the academic research community, we will usher the next frontier in human space exploration.
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